Women of the World Wednesday: Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was born to a wealthy family in Lancashire, England. As such, she was expected to behave appropriately for a young woman in society. But from the beginning, Leonora was a non-conformist. In her early youth, she was expelled from three boarding schools for her rebellious nature, and this translated into her later work as an artist.
In 1936, in order to avoid the constraints imposed by her family, she moved to London and enrolled in Amedee Ozenfant’s Art Academy. While studying there, she met Surrealist artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love quickly, and she went to France to be with him. As a result, she was disowned by her father, who disapproved of the relationship.
While with Ernst, Leonora’s work took on greater themes of childhood, blending in satire of the upper classes. Ernst was arrested in 1939 and kept behind bars as an enemy alien (he was of German citizenship). Leonora was unable to reprieve him, and she feared she would also be arrested. She sold the house they lived in and fled to Spain. Eventually she escaped to the United States with Mexican diplomat Renato Leduc, whom she married out of convenience. While in New York City, Leonora contributed to the Surrealist publications VVV and View.
Leonora moved to Mexico in 1942, divorcing Ledic and later marrying Hungarian photographer Chiki Wiesz. They had two sons. Her time in Mexico allowed for her artistry to mature and transform, distinguishing itself from the Surrealist movement.
In 1963 the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico commissioned a mural, The Magical World of the Maya, that became her most well-known piece of art. After this was completed, Leonora continued to produce artwork that was exhibited internationally. She was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s, passing away in Mexico City at the age of 94.
Source: “Leonora Carrington.” Contemporary Women Artists. Gale, 1999. Biography in Context. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.